Retired Filipino cop who says he was a hitman seeks refuge in Singapore

Retired cop Arturo Lascanas made headlines when he told a Philippine senate hearing that he was "one of the instruments" of the Davao Death Squad (DDS).
Retired cop Arturo Lascanas made headlines when he told a Philippine senate hearing that he was "one of the instruments" of the Davao Death Squad (DDS).ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Retired Filipino cop Arturo Lascanas used to have nightmares about the people he killed.

As a hitman, or what is known in the Philippines as a "player", Mr Lascanas made headlines when he told a senate hearing in February (2017) that he was "one of the instruments" of the Davao Death Squad (DDS), which was said to have been responsible for the summary killings of criminals and drug addicts .

He also accused Mr Rodrigo Duterte, the then mayor of Davao City, and now president of the Philippines, of giving the orders for the extrajudicial killings he took part in from 1989 to 2015.

At a house in the Eastern part of Singapore, Mr Lascanas, 56, told The Straits Times on Thursday afternoon (April 20) that the faces of those he killed "keep coming back sometimes".

The Duterte administration has called Mr Lascanas' allegations lies.

 

The ex-cop had initially denied the existence of the DDS in a senate hearing in October last year. But in February this year, Mr Lascanas admitted to lying about the DDS during his first testimony.

Mr Duterte has denied maintaining a death squad in Davao, where he was mayor for two decades before being elected as president in 2016.

During the hour-long interview, Mr Lascanas said he had sought refuge in Singapore because it was safer than Manila.

"I now sleep much better here and I have even ventured out once to church," Mr Lascanas said, adding that the location of his safe house in Manila had been compromised to people wanting to kill him.

His expression became sombre when he spoke about the work of the 10-member DDS.

They had killed about 300 people, he claimed.

And aside from targeting criminals and drug abusers, Mr Lascanas claimed the DDS also allegedly killed political opponents of then mayor Duterte.

Among others, he recalled being involved in the murder of an elderly man, a couple including a pregnant woman, and a boy.

He admitted piling some of the bloodied bodies into a white van and disposing them at a quarry.

The most painful memory was the deaths of his two brothers - Cecilio, 40, and Fernando, 38- both drug users, between 2009 and 2014.

"I was the one who ordered the killings... They (his brothers) were killed by my companions because of my blind loyalty."

But Mr Lascanas hopes to redeem himself. He is prepared to face the consequences of the law.

"I hope I can bring closure to the families of the victims. I hope I would still be able to point out the graves of their loved ones."